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November 10, 1997 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-11-10

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - November 10, 1997 - 78

DIig Ten
tourney:
ticket to
NCAAs
By Andy Latack
Daily Sports Writer
BLAINE, Minn. - On the surface,
every team at the 1997 Big Ten soccer
tournament wanted to win the champi-
onship, simply for pride's sake. But, in
its run to the championship this week-
e Michigan accomplished something
fa, reater - the right to keep playing
this season.
When- the NCAA Selection
Committee announces its bids to the
NCAA tournament tomorrow, the
Wolverines - as the Big Ten tourna-
ment champions - will be among
them. Along with this automatic bid
givi to the tournament's winner, the
contmitfee distributes 16 at-large bids
-pmary focus for all the teams that
di not make it to yesterday's champi-
onship game. '
Depending on their regular season
finish, Big Ten teams held different out-
looks yesterday regarding their post-
season futures. Minnesota, the confer-
ence's regular-season champion and top
seed in the tournament, was crushed
following Saturday's 3-2 semifinal loss
to upstart Northwestern.
bile the defeat, coming in a
s tout after two overtine periods,
''as hard to swallow for the Gophers,
they were clearly optimistic about their
NCAA tournament prospects.
"I'm really confident that we'll get a
bid," -Minnesota senior midfielder
Jennifer. McElmury said. "They (the
selection committee) don't just look at
this weekend, they've got to look at
consistency over the whole year.
TITLE
Continued from Page lB
upper right corner of the net just beyond
Northwestern goalie Wendy Scholz's
reach.
It wasbonly fitting that Berendowsky,
who set the Big Ten record for points in a
season with her performance this week-
end,.was the deciding factor.
he was shut down, and she didn't
have any good chances all day," Belkin
said of Berendowsky, who was the focus
of opponents' defenses the entire week-
end "But when great players get that one
shot, they'll make good on it."
The game was a battle from the outset,
with both teams capturing momentum
and using it to lauch a barrage of shots at
the opposing goaltender. Scholz, voted
A nd team All-Big Ten, and Michigan
ie Carissa Stewart each turned away
numerous opportunities to ensure that the
game remained scoreless.
With just five seconds left in the sec-
ond half, Scholz thwarted Michigan for-
ward Kacy Beitel's breakaway attempt,
sending the game into overtime. Scholz,
who holds Big Ten game, season and
career records for saves, was virtually
perfect on the day, recording 15.
"1 don't think anyone was expecting us
Veat Minnesota and give Michigan

Univer
Indo
1997-9#
JOGGING MEMBERSHIP
Members may use the University o

Seniors get shot
at championship

By Jacob R.Wheeler
Daily Sports Writer
BLAINE, Minn. - Sports isn't
always fair to great players who may
never play in a championship game -
no matter how long and illustrious their
careers are.
But Michigan seniors Ruth Poulin,
Debbie Flaherty and Karen
Montgomery will leave their college
soccer careers after this season knowing
they played on a championship team.
No matter how the Wolverines fare in
the upcoming NCAA tournament, these
seniors can attest to their moments in
the sun.
"This was my goal,' said Flaherty, a
team captain and four-year starter.
"When I first came to this program, I
knew it would start out slowly and hope-
fully end like this. We've already done a
lot of firsts this year, but I wanted to go
out with something like this."
Flaherty's goal was a long way from
reality when she first came to Michigan
four years ago. In their inaugural sea-
son, the Wolverines won only one con-
ference game and didn't approach
respectability until finishing 3-3 last
year. Michigan advanced to the tourna-
ment semifinals in 1994 and '96, but
championships were out of the question.
This year, things were different from
the get-go. The Wolverines won a team
record 15 games and finished second in
the Big Ten with a 7-1-1 record.
Appropriately, the first freshman class
was still around for Michigan's first shot
at a championship.
"This tournament meant so much
because if we lost, it could have been the
last collegiate game that I ever played,"

said Poulin, not knowing if Michigan
would receive an NCAA tournament
bid.
But not all Big Ten seniors were it
lucky as Poulin. Players like Olio
State's Jodie Stranges and Penn Statc s
Rachel Hoffman played their last colIk
giate games last weekend. This season,
Stranges and Hoffman were both All-
Big Ten first team selections for the
third-consecutive year. But neither one
had the benefit of a supporting cast of
underclassmen like Michigan's Amber
Berendowsky, Kacy Beitel or Erin
Gilhart.
"It's frustrating," said Stranges, after
Ohio State's first-round loss to
Michigan. "We've given these teams a
good game during the season, and we've
beaten them in the seasons before. It's
just come tournament time, it's never
really gone our way."
Ohio State hasn't had any success
against the Wolverines in the postsea-
son. Despite beating it in three-straight
regular season games, the Buckeyes fell
to Michigan in each of the last two
opening rounds of the tournament.
The Nittany Lions have seen the tour-
nament semifinals a couple times, but
they never played in a championship
game. Unlike Michigan, Penn State has
been successful since its inception,
holding an all-time record of 44-16-4,
but the Wolverines have done a lot more
than the Lions in the postseason.
"Emotionally, this is a really tough
loss because this is our fourth year like
Michigan," Penn State coach Pat Farmer
said. "We have 10 seniors that started
the program, and this was probably their
last game."

PAUL TALANIAN/Ually
Amber Berendowsky scored the game-winning double-overtime goal to give the Wolverines the Big Ten tournament title.

"Our record shows that we're a con-
sistent team, so we should be in the
tournament."
Minnesota could afford to be opti-
mistic, because their undefeated confer-
ence record and 16-3-1 mark overall
makes it very likely that they will play
in, and possibly even host, a first-round
NCAA game next weekend.
"Now, we don't have to go out tomor-
row and get kicked around playing
another 90 minutes," Minnesota coach
Sue Montagne said with a laugh. "I'm
trying to look at this loss in a positive
light."
On the other hand, the fifth-seeded
Wildcats, after pulling off the stunning
upset of the Gophers, celebrated their
victory with caution. Finishing the sea-
son 4-5 in the conference, the Wildcats
were aware that winning the tourna-
ment was possibly the only way they
such a game - except us," Scholz said.
Scholz was largely responsible for the
Wildcats' improbable victory over the
top-ranked Golden Gophers on Saturday
in a shootout. After Minnesota took a 2-
0 lead in the semifinal match, Scholz
shut down the Gophers and gave the
Wildcats a chance to come back. The
Wildcats responded with two goals to
send the game into an overtime.
Despite dominating both 15 minute
overtimes, Minnesota was unable to fin-
ish off the fourth-seeded Wildcats.
Unlike the stunned Gophers,
Michigan's ride to the championship
game was a little easier. The Wolverines
dominated Friday's match against Ohio
State, allowing only one shot on goal the
entire game.
Saturday's matchup against No. 3 seed
Penn State featured the rematch of a 0-0
tie earlier in the season. The Nittany
Lions scored first midway through the
first half, but Michigan was not to be
denied a trip to the finals.
Five minutes after Penn State notched
the first goal, Berendowsky sped around
the last line of Lion defenders and deliv-
ered a centering pass that Jessica
Limauro chipped in to tie the game. The
Wolverines dominated from that point
on, adding two second-half goals to ice
the game.

would continue playing in the post-sea-
son.
"It's hard for me to believe that (this
win) happened, but we've got to turn
our focus to the championship game,"
said freshman forward Brooke Bell,
who booted the Wildcats' game-win-
ning goal in the shootout. "We didn't
win anything yet, it's just the semifi-
nals."
When Northwestern fell to Michigan
in yesterday's championship game,
Northwestern coach Marcia
McDermott was left hoping for the best.
"I feel we've made a case for a bid,
but we haven't made a definitive one,"
McDermott said. "After making it to
the finals of the Big Ten tournament,
it's definitely possible. It's a selection
committee with enormous integrity,
and it's out of our hands right now,"
she said.

With their loss yesterday,
Northwestern joined Penn State as a
team that now must keep their fingers
crossed until tomorrow.
Penn State coach Pat Farmer sees his
team's tournament hopes as slim after a
semifinal loss to Michigan. "We felt we
had to win the tournament to get a bid,"
Farmer said. "With only 16 at-large
berths and six regions, you'd better be
in the top two or three in your region,
and we are not.
"The seniors certainly went away
from this hoping that it wasn't their last
game, but thinking that it was," Farmer
said.
Farmer and McDermott must now
wait until tomorrow to learn if their
team has any post-season obligations.
Michigan, by virtue of its performance
this weekend, simply waits to find out
when and where.

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